R50?billion needed to settle land claims

2009-07-23 00:00

THE Commission on Restitution of Land Rights is going to need at least R50 billion to settle outstanding land claims in the next two years, said acting chief Land Claims Commissioner Blessing Mphela.

Mphela, who was speaking at a media briefing yesterday, said that in KwaZulu-Natal alone the commission has had 14 742 claims settled since 1995 with 409 323 individuals benefiting from the restitution process.

However, for this current financial year alone, the commission has exhausted its R1,3 billion budget allocated for claims, eight months before the end of the 2008/2009 financial year, and it will need another R3 billion to reach its targets, bringing the total amount to R4,7 billion for the year.

Mphela cited exorbitant land prices, claims that are still in land claims courts and the reluctance of traditional leaders to assist with land restitution as the causes of the spiralling costs and the delay in the process of land restitution.

He said the portfolio committee on Rural Development and Land Reform and the Treasury have been made aware of “our current financial situation”.

“There are a number of expensive claims such as the Kruger National Park claim, which is estimated at R20 billion.”

Mphela said the organisation has made great strides in land restitution.

He said that in 15 years, the commission has successfully benefited a total of 1,5 million people who were removed from their areas.

He complained at the lack of co-operation from some mining houses, saying they have adopted an antagonistic attitude.

“There are some mining houses who mine recklessly with little concern for the public and who have taken the route of contesting the claims against their land.”

But he acknowledged companies that have been co-operating, saying they were in advanced talks with forestry giant Mondi.

“Together … we have settled nine claims amounting to R38 million.”

Mphela said the most expensive claim settled was the Dube land claim on the KZN north coast. The 3 000 ha cost R600 million.

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